About eight years ago, I was a member of the admin team of Canadian progressive rock site Prog Archives. One of my tasks was to maintain the'Unsigned Bands' forum, where bands without a record label could promote their independent releases to the members of the site. One of the bands that I got in touch with that way was If, who renamed themselves to IfSounds two years later. At the time, they were already an eclectic band, with a mix of styles across the tracks on their then fourth album Morpho Nestiro. This album contained more progressive rock than their previous three releases and eventually got them a place in Prog Archives.
Now, they present us with their 7th album, Reset, which is no different from Morpho Nestiro and the albums succeeding it, in terms of stylistic variations. However, the band is quite different, since from the line up that I got to know in 2007, only two members remain, Dario Mastella and Claudio Lapenna. They restarted the band in 2012, after all other members left, and took two years to accomplish that. In changing the band, they did not lose their stylistic variations but they may have lost some of their progressiveness. Not because the new singer Runal is mainly a rock/blues singer, but because the compositions are slightly less complex than they used to be.
Tracks like 40-14 and I Never Hated Anyone contain hints of punk and hard rock, mixed with some psychedelics in the case of 40-14, although the musicianship of the band members far exceeds that of the average punk musician. Run Away is a solid rock track, as is Flashback, but the latter leaves no lasting memory with me, nor does closing track The Tide. The most interesting tracks on the album are the opener When I Was Born Again, Laura, and the title track.
When I was Born Again starts out as a guitar oriented rock track, but soon the synths start adding a neo progressive feel, although the vocals are rougher than what the average neo progressive rock band provides. A worthy opener. Laura is a different song altogether, almost completely acoustic, with a string trio and flute, and a very nice folky vocal arrangement with multiple male and female vocals. A surprising island of rest in a quite 'present' album. The title track Reset has a space rock feel to it, with drums and bass laying down a nice foundation for the guitar. There's a lot to hear in terms of melody here, no surprise the album is named after this track.
One track that surprised me, and could be my number for if I had to rank them, is FR9364, which is certainly not an average rock track, with blasting drums, funky bass and guitar parts - somehow refreshing amongst all the 70s prog rock clones I've heard this year.
Like eight years ago, Dario and Claudio are at the center of a solid band, but in this case it resulted in an album that may be just as varied as their previous works, but less appealing to a prog audience. Still, musically very well crafted and worth four stars.
Closing note: the album is released in English (the one I reviewed) as well as in Italian (same music, different lyrics).
**** Angelo Hulshout (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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